Next week Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) will become the last of the four companies currently gunning for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) in the tablet market to articulate a modern tablet software strategy, according to a report. The demonstrations will come next week at the D9 and Computex conferences, where Microsoft will show off a version of Windows designed specifically for tablets–the new generation, anyway–running on an ARM chip from Nvidia.
Microsoft, of course, is the grandfather of the tablet computer, launching Windows Tablet PC Edition way back in 2001 to a dim reception. Since then, the computing world has reorganized itself around mobile software that requires less-powerful hardware, led by Apple’s iOS and later Google’s Android. Microsoft has previewed tablets running Windows 7 at past tech conferences but hasn’t put anything out on the market.
Bloomberg reported Thursday that Microsoft executives are prepared to show off the software, although it’s not clear whether it is a version of Windows 8–which Microsoft has said will run on the ARM chips that power most modern mobile devices–or on a version of Windows Phone 7. It’s still not likely to arrive until next year according to the report, which would put it around the same timeframe that is planned for Windows 8.
Meanwhile, the tablet market rolls along, and many analysts believe that it is starting to take market share away from PCs, which are of course Microsoft’s bread and butter. While Apple’s iPad rolls along, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is hoping that newer versions of Android tablets get some momentum, Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) is hoping for converts to its Playbook tablet, and HP (NYSE: HPQ) is gearing up for the launch of the TouchPad this summer.